India has moved additional troops along its northern border as it prepares for an extended conflict with China, after several rounds of talks failed to ease tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals.
China has already placed about 5,000 soldiers and armored vehicles within its side of the disputed border in the Ladakh region, an Indian government official said, asking not to be identified, citing rules.
India is adding a similar number of troops as well as artillery guns along the border to fend off the continuing incursions by the Chinese army, the official said.
The standoff began on May 5, when troops clashed on the banks of Pangong Tso — a glacial lake at 4,267m in the Tibetan plateau — leaving scores of soldiers on both sides injured. Since then, there has been a steady buildup of troops amid continuing face-offs.
Diplomats in New Delhi and Beijing have begun talks after negotiations between Indian and Chinese military officials on Friday and Saturday last week brought no results, the official said.
China’s move to step up incursions at two locations along the 3,488km undemarcated border is a deviation from its earlier attempts to gain territory after the two nations fought a war in 1962, the officials said.
US President Donald Trump said in a tweet on Wednesday that he had offered to mediate.
There was no immediate response from India or China.
Beijing was committed to safeguarding peace and stability in the border areas, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Zhao Lijian (趙立堅) said in a regular briefing to the media on Wednesday, adding that the two countries have good border-related mechanisms and communications channels.
“The realization of ‘Dragon and Elephant dancing together’ is the only right choice for China and India, which serves the fundamental interests of our two countries and two peoples,” Chinese Ambassador to India Sun Weidong (孫衛東) said in an interaction with students, according to a statement released on the embassy’s Web site on Wednesday.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday discussed the stand-off with National Security Adviser Ajit Doval , Chief of Defense Staff General Bipin Rawat and chiefs of its three armed services. The meeting centered around options available to India, and it was decided to go the diplomatic route while maintaining a tough military posture at the border.
“Talks are on at various levels to resolve the issue,” said S. L. Naramsimhan, member of India’s National Security Advisory Board, which advises the prime minister’s office. “India will defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity and at the same time make all efforts to maintain peace and tranquility along the India-China boundary.”
The current tensions with India might have been triggered by the completion of a road and bridge in the Galwan sector in Ladakh, the Indian government official said.
“The Chinese have been expanding presence in this region for a long time, yet after all these decades, India hasn’t found a way to deal with China’s gradual expansion,” said Phunchok Stobdan, former Indian diplomat and author of The Great Game in the Buddhist Himalayas. “The issue is why is China doing this and why now?”
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